Bay Area has 2nd-highest amount of gun deaths statewide: study

Guns on display during a buyback event in the Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, US, on Saturday, March 4, 2023. Los Angeles County, in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department, hosted a voluntary gun buyback event offering

The Bay Area experienced the second-highest gun-related deaths in the state, a new study found, and not surprisingly, the most deaths occurred in the East Bay.

But what could be surprising to some is that two-thirds of all gun deaths happened outside of California's 10 largest cities, the study found. 

The study, released Thursday, looked at gun deaths statewide from 2014-2022 and is a joint project conducted by Hope and Heal, a nonprofit aimed at reducing gun deaths, and RomoGIS Enterprises, a community activist group that specializes in data collection and visualizations.

The study found there were 2,374 deaths during the eight-year period across all nine Bay Area counties. 

The following list shows each Bay Area County's gun deaths from 2014-2022:

  • Alameda County, 951
  • Contra Costa County, 416
  • Santa Clara County, 320
  • San Francisco County, 287
  • Solano County, 196
  • San Mateo County, 82
  • Sonoma County, 69
  • Marin County, 32
  • Napa County, 21

The Bay Area was second to the greater Los Angeles area when it came to the total number of deaths. Los Angeles County alone experienced more than 3,800 guns death from 2014 to 2022.

Although the more urban and populated areas of California experienced more total gun deaths, rural counties experienced much higher deaths per capita, the study found. 

Alameda County has a gun homicide rate of 7.26 deaths per 100,000 people, conversely, Trinity County, which borders Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, had a per capita rate over double that with 15.33 deaths per 100,000 people. Modoc County, located in the northeast corner of California, had the second highest per capita rate with 10.98 deaths per 100,000 people. 

Nationally, California is far from being the leader in gun deaths per capita. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, California had a gun homicide rate of nine deaths per 100,000 residents in 2021, and Mississippi led the nation with 33.9 deaths per 100,000 residents. 

California had the second-highest total of gun-related homicides with 3,576 deaths statewide in 2021, second to Texas' 4,613 and just ahead of Florida's 3,142 – both states had higher per capita rates than California. 

Additionally, the data gathered for the project lacks detailed information on the reasoning behind why the deaths happened, something the authors acknowledged and called for police departments to be more transparent with information. 

"General homicide data emanating from law enforcement is not fully disaggregated and may minimize the impact and numbers of homicides deriving from intimate partner violence, which can lead the public and policymakers to conclude that all or most gun homicides are associated with ‘street violence’ or ‘community violence’ and are the primary drivers of gun violence," the authors state. "This potentially inaccurate narrative does little to support strategies that address victims of intimate partner violence."


Guns for gardening tools: OPD and Guns to Gardens host gun buyback event

The Oakland Police Department, alongside nonprofit Guns to Gardens, hosted a gun buyback event on Saturday seeking to exchange the deadly weapons for gardening tools, A’s tickets, gift cards and other items in an effort to curb gun violence.

Oakland is working on combating gun deaths by utilizing its Ceasefire program

The program began in 2012 and Oakland saw a significant drop in deaths, shootings and injuries in the seven years following the program's start. However, those numbers have since grown to pre-Ceasefire norms since 2020, Oakland police data shows. 

This graph shows the number of related deaths, shootings and injuries in Oakland from 2012-2021.

Find the full map of statewide data here.